Blue Ridge, Ga. – The North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN) is not often highlighted among the nonprofit charities in our community. With the sensitive nature of the services they provide, it is a fine line that the charity must walk in order to financially continue operations and still protect the anonymity of the victims who seek their help.
Started in 1986, the NGMCN is entering its 33 year of service.
“There are a lot of non profit organizations in our community providing care and support to residents of Fannin County,” NGMCN Board Member Steven Miracle said explaining where the charity’s services fall, “Our mission is to provide safety and support to survivors and their children of sexual abuse and domestic violence.”
Miracle went on to explain that there are four major areas in which the organization focuses:
- Sexual Assault. Through NGMCN victims of sexual assault are provided counseling and support services to help navigate them through a very difficult time.
- Domestic Violence. While NGMCN offers the counseling and services to victims of domestic violence as it does to victims of sexual assault, it also offers shelter to house these victims and their children.
- Legal Advocacy. NGMCN has a trained staff that will help victims navigate the sometimes daunting legal system.
- Education Awareness. NGMCN helps to spread the word of domestic and sexual violence through community outreach. This includes working hand in hand with law enforcement, hospitals, and different organizations that provide services to these victims.
In 2018, NGMCN housed 129 residents at their shelter. This accounted for 3,173 bed/nights (a measure of occupancy for one person assigned to one bed for one night). Residents of the shelter were also provided with well over 10,000 units of service.
“That’s actually sitting across from a survivor and their children within the shelter to be able to make phone calls, to be able to help them with any type of individual support,” NGMCN Executive Director Julie Welch explained the term “units of service”.
Outreach clients or those who did not require a shelter stay for last year totaled 158 clients and 8,700 units of service.
So far in 2019 the charity has already provided 380 bed/nights, 87 hotline calls, and 600 units of service.
Once a victim has stayed at the NGMCN shelter, the services continue even after that person has checked out. The charity works with community services in the area that the victim chooses to move to and helps provide a network of resources.
Welch said of this work, “That way we can provide a net of services so they don’t fall through the cracks.”
Over $60,000 were provided to those who reached out to NGMCN in 2018. This financial assistance is used when a client leaving a threatening situation has no source of income initially or is needed as short-term emergency funds.
“The fact that we are part of the budget is very much appreciated,” Miracle spoke to the Fannin County Board of Commissioners about the role the county plays, “and the support that you provide in helping us provide services to survivors and victims of our community is very, very much appreciated.”
Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson shared his thoughts, “I admire what you do because quite simply, every situation you deal with is not a good situation, and you continually do it and your passion about what you do and everything that your organization does do, no one knows. I admire people who work behind the scenes. They do the things that they do. They don’t do it for any glamour or glory, they do it just for the reason you all do it because that’s what you feel like you should do.”
Welch acknowledged that it takes many volunteers, staff, and the community as a whole to provide these services: “It’s not just us. There’s a whole host of other people. It’s a team and working with law enforcement, the judicial system, hospitals…it’s completely a team and community effort.”
“I know some people that you literally saved their lives,” Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton thanked Miracle and Welch for the work they do. “Getting them out of situations that are horrendous. I’m not sure how many people in the county are aware of what a great thing you do. You do such a great thing for the community.”
There are currently 49 clients in their legal advocacy program and NGMCN is housing 14 people in their 12 bed shelter.
“Often times we will have moms that come in that will have small children,” Welch explained the high occupancy.
NGMCN serves both men and women who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. They hope by promoting education and awareness in these areas that eventually the cycle of abuse will come to an end.
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Appalachian CASA is pleased to recognize Catherine Sugg as Court Appointed Special Advocate of the Year for 2016.
Catherine Sugg has been with CASA of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit going on three years where she has zealously served as advocate for eight cases, serving seventeen children!
As a retired career professional with a Master’s Degree in Applied Anthropology, Catherine impacts the lives of others with encouragement and enthusiasm. Professionalism, regard to detail, weighing out situations before reacting are just a few attributes Catherine possesses. Other attributes that come to mind are Catherine’s willingness to give of her time and to make a difference to the people she meets. She is kind, calm, compassionate, patient and has a heart for not just children, but all people that come into her life. Keeping all parties well informed is part of her normal routine in the diligent effort she gives on all of her cases.
Keeping timelines in mind, she makes sure that court orders are followed and if not, brings it back to the attention of the court. Many new CASAs sit next to Catherine in court as she is viewed as a mentor to others.
She serves as Fannin County Family Connections Chair and is recognized as a leader in her community; and is respected for her ability to develop, implement, and evaluate the needs and challenges facing Georgia’s children and families.
She is our number one recruiter for new volunteers…she knows how to ‘tell the CASA story’ with sincerity and urgency. As an adoptive mother of five, she has a personal interest in ‘all children having a safe, loving and permanent home’!
Congratulations Catherine for all you do!
You can join Catherine as CASA Volunteer. CASA of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit is looking for volunteers who would be willing to take on the task of representing abused and neglected children who have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused and do not have anyone that will look after their best interest as the court determines what is best for the child. In this Judicial Circuit, the number of new cases entering the system has continued to increase, thus creating a need for more CASA Volunteers. If you are interested in finding out more about our program and how to become a CASA volunteer, contact our Advocacy Coordinator, Melanie Davis at 706.515.2700 or via email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Fallin of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy sits down with BKP to talk about abuse and stewardship of today’s children.